Google Offer Help to Fix Misconfigured Smartphone Sites, Rolling Out Search Rankings Changes

Google rolling out several ranking changes of smartphone search results that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.

To help webmaster to offer smartphone user the web browing experience with full of richness, Google Webmaster team today shared some recommendations to avoid the most common configuration mistakes.

"Avoiding these mistakes helps your smartphone users engage with your site fully and helps searchers find what they're looking for faster," Google stated adding, "it plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users to improve the search experience for smartphone users," Google said.

Some websites use separate URLs to serve desktop and smartphone users, a faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website.

"These faulty redirects frustrate users whether they're looking for a webpage, video, or something else, and our ranking changes will affect many types of searches," google adds.

As you can see in the picture below, the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone-optimized site. Faulty redirects are shown as red arrows:

Faulty smartphone redirects

The best way is to redirect a desktop page to its equivalent smartphone-optimized page. "If the smartphone-optimized content doesn't exist, it is better to show the desktop content rather than redirecting to an irrelevant page."

Google also shared tips to avoid "smartphone-only errors" including:

  • Google says, to redirect a user to the equivalent smartphone-friendly URL, if a user visits a desktop page from a mobile device--instead of "serving a 404 or a soft 404 page."
  • Also, webmaster must avoid an "infinite redirect loop," which happens when incorrectly handled Googlebot-Mobile. A typical example for this mistake is "when a Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones is incorrectly redirected to the feature phones optimized webpage, which, in turn, redirects Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones back to desktop site."

    To avoid this mistake, a webmaster should treat Googlebot user-agents exactly like you would treat the devices as all Googlebot-Mobile user-agents identify themselves as specific mobile devices.

    For example, "Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones currently identifies itself as an iPhone and you should serve it the same response an iPhone user would get," explains Google.

  • Webmaster should avoid serving "unplayable videos on smartphone devices." For example, if you embed a video that requires Adobe Flash, it should only be served on the desktops, and should be blocked on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher--as both don't support Flash.

Update: A new Google search algorithm update that target spammy queries such as payday loan, pornographic and other is live now, revealed Matt Cutts at the SMX Advanced conference.

"We just started a new ranking update today for some spammy queries," tweeted Cutts, pointing to a video of about upcoming SEO changes:

Google is likely rolling out a version of the site speed ranking factor for mobile sites, according to Matt Cutts.

Cutts at the SMX Advanced, also announced a new beta Structured Data Dashboard tool in Webmaster Tools, that shows webmasters errors and reporting based on their schema, rich snippet and structured data implemented on a web site.

Those interested can sign up for beta test here.

And, soon! Google Webmaster Tools notifications will include example URLs of problem areas.

For example, "if you receive a manual penalty for unnatural links, Google will provide a few sample URLS. If you have other manual penalties, Google will show examples of where the penalties are or derived from," explains Cutts.

A new video on YouTube, involves Cutts discussing some most common mistakes that people making when using the "disavow links" tool.

  • File you upload should be a regular text file only. No syntax or fonts or sorting should be done in this file. People often upload Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and so on. Just upload a text (TXT) file.
  • Typically, the first attempt by users are to be very specific and fine-tuned with their individual URLs. Instead use a domain: command and disavow the whole site. That is often better, Matt said.
  • Wrong syntax is another common issue; use the right syntax within the TXT file.
  • Do not write the story on why you are disavowing in the disavow text file. Do that instead in the reconsideration request, not in the text file.
  • With that, when you do add comments to your disavow tool properly use comment out tags. People often forget to uncomment out or comment out and it causes syntax errors. It may be better off not to comment at all in the file or limit your commenting, Matt said.
  • The disavow is not the be all and end all. It will not cure all your URLs. Clean up your links outside of the disavow tool as well, don't just take the shortcut approach.

Cutts also announced that the Panda algorithm is still being updated roughly every month but that update is rolled out slowly throughout the month.

Google back in March said, that they will stop announcing Panda update because they were more of a "rolling update"--meaning that "it is pushed out monthly but pushed out over a 10 day cycle or so, monthly."